Sea of Japan
The 9th United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names (UNCSGN)
The 9th United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names (UNCSGN) was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 21 to 30 August 2007. The delegates from the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) a raised "the issue of the naming of Sea of Japan" at the conference on the morning of 27 August (local time), stating, among others, that the names "Sea of Japan" and "East Sea" should be simultaneously used.
In response to such statement the Japanese delegation stated, based on the position paper that it had presented in advance, that this conference was not an appropriate forum to discuss the naming of individual geographical features such as Sea of Japan and that the name "Sea of Japan" was the only name for the sea area concerned that had been established both historically and internationally.
In summary, the Chairman remarked that he wished to encourage discussions on this issue to take place between the concerned parties with the results of these discussions to be reported to the next UNCSGN to be held in five years time (this remark was coincided with that of the chairman in the 8th UNCSGN). No decisions or resolutions concerning this issue were adopted.
1. The Points of Statement by the Japanese Delegation (Ambassador Jiro Kodera, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations)
(1) In the first place, the UNCSGN is not an appropriate forum to discuss the naming of individual geographical features such as Sea of Japan.
(2) The name "Sea of Japan" is the only name for the sea area concerned that has been established both historically and internationally.
(3) The name "Sea of Japan" was established in the late 18th century or the early 19th century in Europe and the United States. Accordingly, this naming was not related to Japan's rule over the Korean Peninsula in the early 20th century.
(4) The United Nations Secretariat clearly confirms the practice of using "Sea of Japan" as the standard geographical term in official documents of the UN. In addition, the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) has consistently used the name "Sea of Japan".
(5) Japan has been holding bilateral talks with the ROK once every year since 2003, and is ready to engage in future talks with the ROK.
2. The Points of Statement by the ROK Delegation (Mr. Song Young-wan, Director-General for International Organizations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade)
(1) The ROK believes that the simultaneous use of the names "Sea of Japan" and "East Sea" is the only way of resolving the issue, and an increasing number of map publishers in the world have begun to use both names simultaneously.
(2) The ROK is proposing to hold bilateral talks with Japan on "the issue of the name Sea of Japan", but for the most part, Japan is not intent on holding substantive discussions.
3. The Points of Statement by the DPRK Delegation (Ambassador Pak Tok Hun, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the United Nations)
(1) The DPRK believes that the name "Sea of Japan" is a legacy of Japanese colonialism.
(2) The DPRK requests that the naming of "Sea of Korea / Sea of Japan", or "East Sea of Korea / Sea of Japan" should be adopted.
* UNCSGN: UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names
UNCSGN is a conference for experts from mapping authorities of countries around the world to discuss definitions of terms of geographical names, methods of nomenclature or other issues from technical perspectives. Since 1967, it is convened once every five years in principle. Since the UNCSGN does not have a mandate to decide the name of any particular geographical feature, it was not essentially envisaged as a forum for discussing the name "Sea of Japan" and this issue has not appeared on its agenda.
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